In November 2011, private equity firm Advent International made a majority investment in Morrison Supply Company, Fort Worth, TX, a distributor of plumbing and HVAC supplies. Chip Hornsby, an Advent operating partner and former CEO of Wolseley, joined Morrison as CEO. Hornsby and Stephen Hoffmeister, a partner with Advent International, recently spoke with Associate Editor Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier about the goals for Morrison, the differences between private equity-backed companies and public companies, and the importance of focusing on people when trying to grow.
MDM: Because different private equity firms have different goals for the companies they invest in, could you tell me a little bit about Advent’s philosophy?
Stephen Hoffmeister: We were founded in the ‘80s as a venture capital firm, and as a legacy of our founding, we are very much a growth-focused investor. Our goal is typically to double or triple the size of the businesses in which we invest. Our philosophy is to support growth in our companies in a way that is reasonable and sustainable and to do it in a way that those achievements are permanent in the long term. When you think about this context and what we can accomplish, it is reasonable to think about substantially growing the size of Morrison Supply over a four- or five-year timeframe.
MDM: What attracted Advent to Morrison?
Hoffmeister: Morrison is the leader in the Southwest plumbing supply market, and we really view that as a terrific position in a relatively more attractive market. The Southwest market, in terms of the macro-market as well as in the general economy, is in a relatively better place than most of the rest of the U.S. Candidly, we’re looking at a lot of opportunities both within the re...